Payroll employment rose by a less-than-expected 156,000 in December after being revised up for the month of November. Gains were driven by a rise in hiring in the health care sector, which faces a possible setback depending on how the Republican Congress handles its planned repeal of Obamacare. If they repeal it without another program to replace it, then uncertainty regarding coverage will increase for many individuals (an estimated 20 million). That, in turn, could derail some of the hiring momentum we have seen in recent years, particularly at newly built hospitals.
We are also watching the effects of the change to online from shopping in stores.